Computer Data Backup - Data Backup Strategy

For numerous individuals, computers have become an everyday essential. We use them for work, for correspondence and for pleasure. However, many of the files on those computers are important documents and losing them would cost us in time, money and stress. Having a data backup strategy is the best way to avoid their permanent loss. Don't make the mistake of believing that making a computer data backup is exclusively for computer geeks or big corporations, or a job that can be performed 'when I get around to it'. On the contrary, computer data backups are a necessity for everybody.

Even if your computer has been running without problems for years, it will fail one day - either by way of virus attack, user error or just old age. When that day comes, one of two things will happen. You will either suffer the misery that comes with losing financial data, passwords, music collections, personal photographs and all the software that you've bought over the years. Or, you can service or replace the computer and restore your data from the backups you've been making on a regular basis. The latter is an aggravation, the first a catastrophe.

There are an infinite range of ways to lose data. In addition to hardware failure, computers can be destroyed in fires or floods. Hard Disc drives can be damaged by electrical surges caused by lightning strikes or data lost by a child randomly hitting the keyboard. Viruses can infect systems and delete data on hard drives.

But there's only one way to get it back - by having it available to be restored.

For the normal computer user, it is usually not essential to backup each and every file on their computer as this would require a large amount of storage space. But at a bare minimum home users should backup personal files and documents plus irreplaceable software. Spreadsheets with financial records not readily obtainable from other sources, legal documents, work-in-progress... the list goes on.

The simplest way to do backups is to use the data backup software that comes with the computer operating system. Windows has a free, usable backup program while equivalent programs are available for Mac, Linux and other operating systems. The software is easy to use and backing up is an easy matter of selecting which folders to backup and pressing go. It even has a scheduler so backups can be automated to take place at suitable times.

For a modest cost, data backup software can be bought that will only backup files changed since a particular date, or since the last backup. Alternatively, new files could be copied everyday to a backup folder where they can be backed-up by your backup program. To ease the job of identifying which, use the Search option to list files 'newer than X'. Once the list is complete, copy them into the backup folder and run the program for just that folder.

Some data, such as emails are a little more difficult to protect. Some email programs can be configured to maintain copies of received and sent emails on the email server. When that is not an option, most can export messages to a file, which can then be backed up.

Backups can be done to any kind of removable media - writeable CD's/DVD's, removable hard drives or even the more recent 'keychain' devices that plug into a USB port. Of course, floppy disks can still be used for backup provided that your computer comes equipped with a disk drive. Documents usually take a small amount of space. Just set aside 7 disks and revolve them from day to day

Daily computer data backups are yet another job to do in our busy daily lives, but the day you lose that file you need and cannot restore, you are going to be a whole lot busier.